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Suicide Prevention

Stop The Stigma: Debunking The Top 5 Suicide Myths And Facts

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers.

Despite increased awareness drives about mental health challenges in recent years, suicide continues to be a serious public health issue. According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year; this number does not include those who attempt to die by suicide and survive. Even more troubling: suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds. 

Unfortunately, many of us do not recognize the signs that someone is at risk for suicide or self-harm because of the many misconceptions society has about it. Additionally, the stigma prevents those with suicidal ideation to get the help they need to get better. 

“Not talking about suicide does not prevent suicide,” point out Luis Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy. “All it does is make suicidal ideation cultivate in secret rather than out in the open, where people can help one another and address their issues.” 

Luis shares five common and harmful suicide myths and provides the facts to debunk them: 

Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
Fact: On the contrary, talking about suicide allows individuals with suicidal ideations to seek help, rethink their opinions, and share their story with others so they do not feel hopeless and alone. “Anytime someone initiates a conversation about wanting to take their lives, we should take it as a call for help and never assume that they are joking,” Luis adds. 

Myth: Suicide attempts happen without warning.
Fact:
“Suicides are very rarely spur-of-the-moment occurrences,” Luis says. “Individuals who are suicidal show warning signs, especially to their loved ones, but it’s possible that these loved ones did not recognize those signs. This is why it may seem like the suicide was sudden.” 

Some warning signs of suicide include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Dramatic change in behavior
  • Giving away possessions
  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts

“While it’s possible that there are other explanations for the above behavior, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” Luis explains. “Reach out to the person and ask ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘How are you doing lately?’” If they don’t want to share, don’t force this issue, just say “That’s fine, I just wanted to know how you were,” or “Glad to know you’re okay, I’m always here if you need me.’”

But if you are really concerned or have concrete evidence that the person is attempting suicide:

  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Call your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what’s going on.
  • Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number
  • Get help from a trained professional

Myth: People who attempt suicide and survive will never attempt it again.
Fact:
This myth comes from the belief that the physical pain of self-harm will deter someone with suicidal ideation from further attempts. “But people who attempt suicide already believe that death is a preferable alternative to their current situation,” Luis explains. “So if they survived their attempt but the circumstances that led them to think about suicide do not change, you can expect that the attempt will repeat. Maybe the method used to end their lives will be different, but the ideation will still be there.”

Suicide attempts should be taken as call for help. Loved ones must work together to let the person with suicidal ideation see that other options for staying safe or solving their problems are available to them. 

Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Fact:
According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness, many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts, just as not all people who attempt or die by suicide have mental illness. Relationship problems and other life stressors such as criminal/legal matters, persecution, eviction/loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Myth: If a person is serious about killing themselves, there is nothing that we can do.
Fact:
“There is always something you can do; the question is, what are you willing to do?” Luis points out. “Reaching out is one thing, but don’t leave it at that. When someone expresses struggles or pain, take the extra step, be it helping the victim of an abusive relationship leave, or connecting someone with depression to a mental health professional. Show your concern in concrete ways.”

As individuals, we should not be afraid to speak up about suicide, mental illness, or to seek out treatment for an individual who is in need. Eliminating the stigma starts by understanding why suicide occurs and advocating for mental health awareness within our communities. Start by sharing articles on suicide awareness and prevention, as well as those related to mental health;  additionally, look for and connect with groups that have the similar objective of wanting to remove the stigma surrounding suicide. 

“Breaking the stigma  about suicide is going to be hard, you may encounter resistance because of the stigma surrounding it,” Luis admits. “But suicide is something that we have to accept is a reality in our society, and talking about it can help any individual who is struggling with unhealthy thoughts and emotions get the help they need.” 

If you or a loved one is in crisis, the MindNation Chat Helpline is available 24/7 if you need someone to talk to. Additionally, MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions via sms chat, video chat, or voice call. Rest assured that all conversations are secure and will be kept confidential. Chat with a friend or book a session now though bit.ly/mn-chat. 

Categories
Suicide Prevention

5 Strategies for Suicide Prevention In The Workplace

Executing a successful suicide prevention program at work requires making sure that there are enough people trained to recognise the risk and taking steps to provide appropriate and effective support. Here are some ways you can achieve this:

  1. Promote good mental health and destigmatize mental health problems
    The best prevention strategy is early intervention. Leaders can help reduce the risk for suicide by building a culture where mental health matters and asking for help is not taboo. You can do this by talking about mental health and therapy in company-wide meetings or mid-level manager one-on-one meetings to promote its importance and advocating or promoting pro-mental health work benefits such as paid mental health days, sufficient vacation time, and other policies that acknowledge the importance of both physical and mental health.
  2. Extend support and psychological health services.
    According to the results of the MindNation 2020 Pulse Survey, 42% of employees named “access to psychologists” as one of the top ways companies can support their mental health and well-being.
  3. Reduce stress at work.
    It’s important that managers help employees maintain work-life balance and make time for self-care so that they can manage stress better. This can be done by fostering an atmosphere where a direct report can bring feedback whenever they need assistance, and setting clear goals and then giving employees the freedom they need to reach those goals.
  4. Prevent and take action against bullying and harassment.
    Bullying, harassment, and intimidation in the workplace adds to stress at work, which can aggravate mental health challenges and increase the risk of suicide. Employers have a legal and moral obligation to provide a safe and positive work environment in which the rights of all employees are respected equally. You can do this by adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying in any form, and act swiftly and decisively when allegations are made.
  5. Educate and train managers and other key staff on mental health and suicide prevention.
    Managers are in the best position to observe changes in behaviour or hear from co-workers that someone appears to be having difficulties. MindNation conducts virtual trainings on topics like Mental Health First Aid and Managing Depression And Suicide to boost awareness as well as interpersonal and social competencies.  

To learn how to execute these strategies properly and how MindNation can help you, download our Suicide in the Philippine Workforce 2021 toolkit now: http://bit.ly/mn-suicide2021.

Visit www.mindnation.com or email [email protected] to know more about mental health services for the workplace.

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Featured Mental Health 101 Self Help Suicide Prevention

Do’s And Dont’s Supporting A Loved One Who Has Lost Someone to Suicide

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers

If comforting a sad friend is hard, supporting someone who has lost a loved one to suicide is especially difficult and awkward. Often times, the grieving person is not just depressed — they may also be feeling a mix of guilt, confusion, anger, or shame; worse, he may even have suicidal thoughts themselves.

In such cases, the key to helping your friend through this difficult loss is to offer a listening ear. Sit with your friend and listen to the story and feelings in a nonjudgmental way, without trying to problem-solve.

DO:

1. Address the elephant in the room.

Example: “I heard __ died by suicide; how are you?” is one way to start the conversation. Using the word “suicide” can be scary, but when you show your friend that that you are able to talk more openly about what happened, it eases the stigma and encourages him to open up.

2. Express your concern and don’t hide your feelings.

Even if you do not have all the answers, show your friend that you are aware that the death has affected him, and that you are there when he needs help. Example: “I’m sorry to hear that this happened. I’m not sure what to say, but I am here when you need me. Tell me what I can do.”

3. Be an active listener.

Often finding the right words is less important than letting your friend express himself. While you should never try to force your friend to open up when he is not ready, being able to have this conversation when he is ready is important.

Some strategies to be an active listener include:
  • Let your friend know that whatever he is feeling is OK — it’s okay to cry, become angry, or break down in front of you. Your friend should feel free to express feelings knowing that you are willing to listen without judgment, argument, or criticism.
  • Communicate non-verbally. If your friend is not yet ready to talk or you don’t know what to say, you can still show your support through eye contact, a squeeze of the hand, or a reassuring hug.
  • If you’ve gone through a similar loss, share your own experience, if you think it would help. However, don’t give unsolicited advice, claim to “know” what the person is feeling, or compare your grief to his or her.

DON’T say the following:

1. “I know how you feel.”

We can never know how another person may feel. It’s more helpful to ask your friend how he feels.

2.“There’s so much to be thankful for.”

Part of grieving is being able to experience the feelings of sadness and loss.

3.“He is in a better place now.”

Your friend may or may not share your religious beliefs. It’s best to keep your personal spiritual beliefs to yourself unless asked.

Watch Out for the Following Warning Signs:

If you notice any of the following warning signs after the initial loss, especially if they continue for more than two months, or if you feel that your friend is in danger of committing suicide himself, encourage him to seek counseling or connect him to suicide survivor support group resources.

  1. Extreme focus on the death
  2. Talking about the need to escape the pain
  3. Persistent bitterness, anger, or guilt
  4. Difficulty making it to class and declining grades
  5. A lack of concern for his/her personal welfare
  6. Neglecting personal hygiene
  7. Increase in alcohol or drug use
  8. Inability to enjoy life
  9. Withdrawal from others
  10. Constant feelings of hopelessness
  11. Talking about dying or attempting suicide

To avoid seeming invasive, state your feelings instead of outrightly telling your friend what to do: “I am worried that you aren’t sleeping. There are resources online that can help you.”

Remember that grief after losing someone to suicide can feel like a rollercoaster, full of intense ups and downs and everything in-between. People will never fully “get over” their loss, but over time, with your support, they can begin to heal.

We can all help prevent suicide. If you or a loved one is in distress, MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now thru bit.ly/mn-chat.

Categories
Employee Wellness Featured Mental Health 101 Suicide Prevention

6 Ways Companies Can Help Reduce Suicide Risk In the Workplace

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers

Workplace suicide is defined as suicide in or outside the workplace, which may involve an employee, supplier, a significant customer, a family member, a close friend of any of the above. When it occurs, it has a devastating impact on the emotional well-being of both the victim and his/her co-workers.

According to the National Center of Mental Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic rise in mental health problems which may trigger or aggravate suicidal thoughts. This is because the virus outbreak has brought forth a slew of stressors that millions of people are experiencing for the first time in their lives: widespread job loss, deaths of loved ones that they are unable to properly mourn, and the heightened fear of contracting the disease, among others.

To make matters worse, social distancing policies crafted by health authorities to reduce the risk of infection have resulted in the removal of many of the resources people have traditionally used to cope with stress: Routines are disrupted; face-to-face contacts with family, friends, and mental health professionals are no longer allowed; exercise and other forms of outdoor physical activities have been curtailed; and even relaxing at home is now harder to achieve since the entire household is cooped up together.

Because people spend a large portion of their day at the workplace, it is highly likely that there will be those who are struggling with the stresses while doing work and hiding it. Employers and co-workers therefore have a crucial role to play in suicide prevention because they are in a position to spot the signs of being mentally unwell, as well as provide distressed individuals with an important social and emotional network.

Key elements of an effective workplace suicide prevention program might include:

1. Creating a workplace culture that promotes good mental health

Encourage staff to create Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) whose members can serve as mental health champions as well as offer peer support when needed. In addition, managers can advocate or promote pro-mental health work benefits such as paid mental health days, sufficient vacation time, and other policies that acknowledge the importance of both physical and mental health.

2. Knowing and understanding your employees.

Regularly hold team-building events so that co-workers get to know each other on a more personal level. This will make it easier for them to identify colleagues who are exhibiting stress or drastic changes in mood or behavior.

3. Fostering a workplace culture where it is all right to seek help.

Employees should feel comfortable in approaching their superiors if they are feeling emotionally unwell. In turn, managers should have the confidence to be able to respond appropriately when an employee needs support.

4. Encouraging self-care and healthy living.

Regularly promote the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and getting enough exercise, as well as the risks of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. In addition, make sure that the on-site workplace environment itself follows safety protocols — air quality, lighting, temperature, noise levels, and physical distancing measures must meet minimum health standards to reduce the stress of employees.

5. Promoting a safe and positive work environment.

Bullying and harassment at work increase stress and the risk of suicide, so they should never be tolerated. Employers must act swiftly and decisively when allegations are made.

6. Educating and training managers and other key staff about suicide prevention awareness.

The suicide or attempted suicide of an employee — even if it does not occur on the job –can have a profound emotional effect on others in the workplace. Evidence has shown that when businesses take concrete measures to support staff health and well-being, these will translate to improved staff engagement and better productivity, leading to financial gain for all.

We can all help prevent suicide. MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now thru bit.ly/mn-chat.